Minneapolis (AP) — There was cheers and screams, and “happy tears” for one of them, and endless joy for what many considered a “only in America” story.
Snisa Lee Won a women’s all-purpose gold medal At the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, a victory that surprised Minnesota as a whole, but had a special response to the close Hmong-American community in one of the largest states in the United States.
“I can’t find a word that describes how happy we are and how important it is to me, my family, and the entire Hmong community around the world,” said one of the brightest lights in Tokyo today. John Lee’s father said. Associated Press. “We didn’t expect money, but she came. She did it.”
She did, and dozens of her family and friends gathered early in the morning at the St. Paul Event Center in the suburbs to watch gymnastics broadcast from Tokyo.
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When Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade went out of range twice during a floor routine, John Lee said everyone knew that his 18-year-old daughter would soon be covered in gold.
“It was neck-to-neck to go to that last event, and when she did it, my heart, exactly my god, is this really true?” Lee said. .. You can even find the right words to say how happy and proud I am of her. … I never cry, I try not to be in front of people, I deepen, but I don’t want to show it to the world. … my daughter cried, my wife cried … happy tears. “
Punner Koy, who had been coaching for several years when Sunisa Lee first came to the Midwest Gymnasium on the outskirts of St. Paul, Little Canada, captured part of her performance at a watch party. Then he had to leave for Jim to work. He said he could barely hold back his tears on the drive. He remembered what she tried at the age of six and called her a “phenomenon.”
“Soon there was a great talent, you could see the strength to weight radio very obvious,” Koi said. “She didn’t know any fear about her.”
Lee was a simple study. The coach said she often went to do it on the device the same day from learning skills with a drill. He described a particular antenna on the beam that Gabby Douglas performed at the 2012 London Olympics. Lee duplicated it at the age of eight or nine on a beam his father built in his family’s garden.
The celebration was also attended by St. Paul’s Republican Rep. Aiden Har, who trained with Lee in Midwestern gymnastics for 10 years. She said all the girls in the group who have been sticking together for years were elite athletes — Ayden Her will be a diver at the University of Minnesota this fall. But Lee was “special from the moment you saw her,” she said.
Many Hmong who fought for the United States in Laos during the Vietnam War resettled in Minnesota. Patriotism is deep in the community and fuels the joy of Lee’s success. She said the Hmong were oppressed in all other countries, including Laos and China, and sought opportunities in the United States.
“All the other Hmong who did something first literally live the dreams of our ancestors,” she said.
Lee Pao Sion, director of the Hmong Research Center at Concordia University in St. Paul, states that Lee was the first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics. He said the only other Hmong athlete to do so was the gold medalist of the Chinese weightlifting team in 2008.
“Because you have refugee children who represent the United States, we are not only representing the United States, but also shining a spotlight on the Hmong community,” said Xiong. “Even though she’s very proud to say,’I’m doing this for my community, I’m doing this for my people,’ she’s honest with her. I didn’t forget. “
Lee’s progress has traditionally emphasized education as a way out of poverty and highlights cultural and alternation of generations among Hmong families who have given little value to sports. But Lee is an athlete. Her father, who served in the US Navy, said he was an active sport that had grown.
“All three of my girls can backflip, but no boy can,” the father said.
Some local Hmong leaders said Lee’s victory showed that sport could be the way to the community.
“Our parents always hit it to study in our heads — extracurricular activities are playing. If you work hard on it, Sunisa will lead to something. I think I showed you. “
Next, Snisa Lee will head to Auburn University, and members of the community are collecting scholarships for her. John Lee wants to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics, but it’s not time to make a decision.
“She was so overwhelmed because she missed all her vacations. She missed all family events … she worked very hard, had no friends outside of school, and did gymnastics. There were only a few people in the world, “he said. When she got home. “
The Associated Press writer Douggrass contributed to this report.
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